Mangaoang applies for witness protection program

MANILA, Philippines – Former Customs X-ray chief Lourdes Mangaoang has applied to be a state witness for the government's probe into the missing P11 billion worth of shabu (methamphetamine).

"I already filed, submitted my request to the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission," Mangaoang told Senator Richard Gordon during the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing into the missing drug shipment on Tuesday, October 30.

Mangaoang said she had been receiving threats after she told on her Customs colleagues who failed to stop the supposed shabu-packed magnetic lifters from leaving the Bureau of Customs BOC). She claimed that standard operating procedures were not followed, and accused former Customs chief Isidro Lapeña of incompetence.

Gordon offered his help to Mangaoang, saying, "We can do that for you." (FAST FACTS: On becoming state witness)

The senator said in an ambush interview after the hearing that he had sounded off Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra about his recommendation that Mangaoang be covered by the Department of Justice's Witness Protection Program.

Asked how Guevarra received his request,  Gordon said, "Favorable naman siya (He's favorable)."

During the hearing, Mangaoang was a constant consultant on Customs policies as she has been with the embattled agency for at least 30 years.

Gordon also said that former Customs intelligence officer Jimmy Guban would be turned over to the DOJ, where he will be under the WPP, on Tuesday, to ensure his safety. 

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Guban's arrest after he was grilled at a congressional probe into the missing shabu shipment, but the Senate detained him instead, initially for contempt, then later for "protective custody" as a vital "witness" in the investigation. 

Gordon's panel later recommended to the DOJ that he be admitted into its WPP. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.